In the last article we discussed how important it is for insurance carriers to focus on “what is important.” Where does technology fall on that continuum?
Our data shows that claims and underwriting continue to outweigh technology in their importance to agents, year over year. While this fact often surprises our new clients, they soon understand why.
The data does not imply that technology is unimportant to agents. Rather it suggests that agents view technology as a means to an end — as a tool that either helps them do business or hinders their productivity.
Agents routinely provide us with insights as to how carriers can improve the value that carrier technology brings to them.
Importantly, agents think about a carrier’s technology through the unique lens of having hands-on experience with technology offered by carriers that compete for the same business. The agent’s technological landscape constantly shifts as carriers roll out enhancements to their applications.
Despite the shifting technological landscape, agent comments have remained remarkably consistent.
When agents think about their carriers’ technology, they most often identify three critical technology needs.
1. Make it quick and easy to quote and issue policies
The importance of this need varies depending on the type and size of business the agent typically writes. It is more important for personal lines agents and agents writing small commercial. Agents focused on larger, more complex commercial risks tend to have slightly different priorities.
When identifying this need, agents tend to focus on technology that helps them self-service.
These quotes from agents represent hundreds more we have received expressing the same sentiments:
“Quick turn-around time. Online quoting for smaller risks and being able get a quote quickly.”
“The big reason [carrier names] are in my top 2 or 3 is I can quote almost everything online with them, which is key if I am working after hours or need something that day.”
2. Facilitate communication with their underwriter
Not all agents are focused just on carrier technology that helps them self- service. Many also demand easier access to their underwriter. They also crave technology that helps them efficiently collaborate with the underwriter in order to write more business.
These are a couple of representative quotes:
“Wait time is too long and the turn-around time is too long for commercial accounts. The process of obtaining a new or renewal quote is cumbersome.”
“Quick communication and clear communication regularly in the underwriting process. When you get a quote the quote spells out everything from why to do business with us, pay plans, claims handling, clear explanation of coverages etc. It is easy to understand every aspect of what you are getting and why you should do business with them”
3. Quickly and easily respond to policyholder requests
Think about how our expectations as consumers have and will continue to change. Even Boomers like me have grown to expect access to immediate, accurate answers to our questions.
Policyholders still look to their agent as their primary relationship contact. Thus, when an agent is approached with requests to make changes — or with questions about billings, claims status, loss control, audits, etc. — they want technology to provide quick — hopefully immediate — answers.
The following quote illustrates the frustration agents feel when they can’t provide timely service to customers:
“It needs to allow us to do endorsements on existing policies. We waste so much time trying to get pricing on potential coverage changes for our customers. Our customers expect instant answers and we can’t give that to them. Sometimes it is days before we can even get a price to increase a limit. By the time we get the price out to our insured they have forgotten about it and we can’t sell the increase.”
Even though claims and underwriting continue to be of greater importance to agents than technology, technology is a crucial tool in making it easier for agents to work with underwriting and claims.
If you’d like to learn how to gain reliable insights from your independent agents related to technology and other ease-of-business factors, let’s talk.